CHARLES by Shirley JacksonWhat do you learn about Charles in the below preview section? "Most classrooms have a boy who is always in trouble.in this story we find that even a kindergarden class...

CHARLES by Shirley Jackson

What do you learn about Charles in the below preview section?

"Most classrooms have a boy who is always in trouble.
in this story we find that even a kindergarden class has its problem child- Charles.
We may not expect to find humor amid all the problems that surround such a boy, but let Shirley Jackson tell you all about "Charles"..."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The preview establishes "Charles" as a challenging child.

In the preview, Charles is seen as a behavior problem.  The preview clearly states that "Charles" repeatedly gets in "trouble."  In addition to this, Charles is labeled as a "problem child," meaning that he causes tension in the classroom setting to students and teacher.  When the preview concludes that Jackson is going to talk "all about" Charles, it is anticipated that what she will describe will involve high- jinks and outlandish behavior that concerns an uncontrollable child.

In many regards, Jackson plays off of this in her short story.  The preview establishes the "bad kid" in the classroom setting.  It is one in which poorly behaved children are seen as "the outsider" or "someone else's kid."  The preview makes Charles out to be "that" student.  However, one of the most effective aspects of Jackson's short story is how "that" child might be our own. When the teacher tells the mother, "We don't have any Charles in Kindergarten," it is unsettling because she recognizes that Charles was not "that kid," but rather her own.  The preview describes Charles in the same terms that the mother perceives him to be.  However, the tables turn rather brutally when we understand that the child we tend to point the dirty end of the stick at might be our own.  At that point, our perception changes and self- awareness develops.

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